It was a complete shock to find out that President Trump’s budget zeroed out the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, or CPB. Despite the conservative view that it is a left-wing organization, nothing is further than the truth.
The president and chief executive officer of the CPB is a long-term Republican. She was co-chair of the Republican National Committee from 1997 to 2001 and then was appointed (and confirmed) by President George Bush to be the assistant secretary of state for educational and cultural affairs. When she took the job as president of the CPB, people on the left were suspicious of her, but because she is so fair-minded, her opposition fell apart.
Those of us who know what happens in places like the bush in Africa only wish we could have something like the CPB to help with the education of children. In parts of South Sudan, children do not even begin their education until they are seven years old. Parents who have no resources and are illiterate themselves do not know the basics of how to train young minds. They do not even know enough to teach children to identify colors, let alone numbers. The CPB donated some CDs and, with a computer and a generator we purchased, we were able to have these young children in Africa learn from Big Bird. English is now the language of South Sudan, and many parents do not speak it. Big Bird and the folks of “Sesame Street” are the ones who teach it to the children.
However, back in America, most people are unaware of what a difference the CPB makes in the lives of our children. There is actually little public support for zeroing out the budget of CPB. As requested from them, they sent me the following: “Rasmussen shows that just 21% of Americans – and only 32% of Republicans – favor ending public broadcasting support. In the PBS Hart Research-American Viewpoint poll, 83% of voters – including 70% of those who voted for President Trump – say they want Congress to find savings elsewhere.”
Let’s look at what CPB does for kids. It is not just the lovable “Big Bird,” but it is the education that it provides that counts. Recently, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued the following statement via its report, “Media and Young Minds.” The report repeatedly notes the advantages of exposing children to “high-quality” programming and resources as preferable to other options with less educational foundation:
“A recent study showed that PBS KIDS resources can help close the math achievement gap for children from low-income families and better prepare them for Kindergarten. The study also showed an increase in parents’ engagement in their kids’ learning. Parents’ awareness of their children’s mathematics learning increased, as did their use of activities and strategies to support their children’s learning. Parents were also motivated to set aside time each day to do math activities with their children” (Engaging Families in Early Mathematics Learning: A Study of a Preschool Family Engagement Model. WestEd, 2014).
It also has the audience. Here are some statistics: Teachers have access to more than 100,000 curriculum-aligned digital resources from more than 205 trusted media partners. Over 1.8 million educators and users have registered access to PBS LearningMedia.
What has PBS said about the cuts?
“There is no viable substitute for federal funding that ensures Americans have universal access to public media’s educational and informational programming and services. The elimination of federal funding to CPB would initially devastate and ultimately destroy public media’s role in early childhood education, public safety, connecting citizens to our history, and promoting civil discussions – all for Americans in both rural and urban communities.”
The cost to Americans is about $1.35 per citizen per year. That is a pretty good deal considering what people pay for cable mostly, and a pretty good investment in educational readiness.
Why cut the CPB when it has such a huge impact on the lives and education of our children? It makes no sense.
If we want to return to the time when we were growing up and many households did not have a television, much less something as educational as “Sesame Street,” we could be like those children in South Sudan. They can’t count. They don’t know colors, and their neuropathways are not stimulated until they are 7 years old, which many people consider too late.
We need to fund the CPB. That is what we pay our taxes for.
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